Addiction is a disease that has no real cure and therefore never truly goes away. Even with long term treatment and effective recovery programs, everyday can still be a struggle for someone facing addiction. That is why relapse rates can oftentimes be so high among addicts, even after a long period of sobriety, because one day is all it can sometimes take to fall back on previous addiction behaviors.
That is not to say attempting recovery is not worthwhile, though. While relapsing is often considered a step in the process, proper treatment and support greatly reduce the severity and chances of relapsing over time.
While recovery rates can be difficult to find due to the lack of study and the high relapse rates that can occur during and after the treatment process, it is estimated that 10% of Americans over the age of 18 claim to be in recovery. That means over 22 million Americans consider themselves to be in recovery from addiction. Keeping in mind a 2017 study that claimed 19.7 million Americans are currently battling addiction1, that would mean there are more people in recovery for addiction than currently battling it. However, relapsing is always a threat for recovering addicts. The relapse rate for addicts can be as high as 60%, although that number can drop as low as 20% after long term treatment.
The main reason that long term sobriety can be so difficult to manage is that there is no cure for addiction; rather, recovery is a process that must be maintained and worked at everyday. Addiction is medically considered a “chronic, relapsing disorder”, meaning that a person suffering from addiction will never fully rid themselves of the urges associated with addiction. However, with treatment and an effective recovery program those behaviors can be managed and dealt with effectively.
While relapsing is considered to be a symptom of the disease of addiction, that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do about it. Most recovery programs are designed to help people facing addiction overcome the dangers of relapsing. Additionally, by having a stable and supportive home and work life, someone in recovery is more likely to be able to stay sober longer.
The first step for the family of someone facing addiction to take is to educate themselves on both the mental disorders and addiction behaviors associated with this disease. Through a better understanding on how addiction affects their loved one a family is likely to help them through the recovery process and be able to avoid potentially triggering behaviors.
Recovery is not an easy process and it is important that family and friends are there to support their loved ones at the most difficult times to avoid relapsing. This could include making sure their loved one is taking any prescribed medications as a part of their treatment or simply just creating a less stressful living environment at home.
It is also important for a family to learn about the realistic chances of relapse with every addict in recovery. By understanding why those facing addiction relapse, families can better avoid situations that could cause a relapsing event. Similarly, it is also important that families learn the warning signs of a relapse to help control the severity if one does occur.
While the family’s primary role is to provide the person in recovery a supporting, stable, and loving environment in which to approach their treatment, there is more a family can do as well. Not only are there groups for addicts in recovery but family groups as well. This can better help families learn about their role in the recovery process and have a better and healthier understanding of what their loved ones are going through.
It should also be noted that oftentimes addiction runs in the family; genetics account for up to 60% of a person’s risk of facing addiction1. It is important that just because one family member is in recovery, another who is not and also facing addiction could cause a lot of stress on both parties. Addiction recovery is a family event and an opportunity to deal with potentially destructive behaviors.
As a society it is important to treat addiction as the disease it so clearly is. That involves a better study and understanding of not only the causes of addiction but of recovery as well. It is also important to stress how vital treatment is to the recovery of addicts. Addiction is incredibly serious and not something that anyone can face totally alone. In 2017, it is estimated that only 19% of those facing serious addiction actually received treatment for it1. That number needs to be much higher to effectively fight the epidemic of addiction that this country is facing.
It is vital that a person suffering from addiction place themselves in the right environment in order to aid their recovering process. This includes being a part of a program that they can engage with and find helpful, removing instances of temptation in their lives, and building a system of support that they can rely on. Recovery is a process that quite literally needs to be taken one step at a time. Most importantly it must be remembered that just because someone in recovery may relapse does not make the treatment a failure. Relapsing is a part of addiction and something that all addicts in treatment face the threat of. By building the proper support systems and participating in the right recovery treatment options, a recovering addict can get past that threat.
At Warner Park Recovery, we’re here to help individuals and families by providing exceptional addiction treatment options. We’re a dual diagnosis (mental health combined with substance abuse treatment) program that offers partial day, intensive outpatient, and traditional outpatient levels of care. We regularly treat patients from the Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Topanga Canyon, The Valley, and Thousand Oaks areas. If you are looking for help with addiction treatment, please give us a call to learn more about our professional services!